Blog posts

Are you trying to ’ave a cado?

I don’t know why I seem to be the only person who has bizarre experiences, but this week, the campus Co-op store asked me for proof-of-age when I was trying to buy an avocado. The barcode flagged it up as an age-restricted product, and the checkout girl asked her colleague to explain this absurdity, but his response was to say, “Well they must have alcohol in them, or something,” and he spent a couple of minutes scrutinising the packet.

But fortunately, there was a happy ending (see below).

“Tomato or not tomato, that is the question.” — Bill Samic-Vinegar, 2003

From Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss has made a brief return from the dead to offer up his opinion on the proposal to ban smoking in cars. It’s entitled If I Ran the NHS and there is a handy recording available below:

We have banned smoking in our bars.
Now let’s ban smoking in our cars.
’Cos instead of being nice and clean,
Our teeth are black with nicotine.

“In this chest are two things I will show to you now,
You won’t like these two things,” said the Doc with a bow.
“I will X-ray the skin, you will see something new.
Two things, and I call them Lung 1 and Lung 2!”
“But they’re black and diseased!” we both said to the Doc.
“Well yes,” quoth the Doc, “But in your car you did smok’!”

Fags deposit nasty tars,
So let’s ban smoking in our cars.

Smug people throughout the ages

I came across this intriguingly-titled and ancient-looking 1876 book in the library while doing research for my essay on the Eastern Question. It looked rather 19th-century and fun, and it was by an MP, so I picked it up to have a read.

Below is an excerpt from as far as I managed to get; it starts off (just about) reasonably enough, but soon enough, I noticed that the writer was unbearably smug, pretty racist-sounding and basically unreadable. So I  unread.

Weekly Report from the Amateur Branch of the Press Complaints Commission

The Independent is now in receipt of the George Papandreou Order of Merit for Financial Advice, in recognition of the following student-money-saving tip:


The Rt Hon David Cameron MP easily wins this week’s Impersonation of a Convict Award, not just because of the fact that he’s a pretty shady person, but due to his hysterical impersonation of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s accent during a speech in London.

From the last few seconds of that video, I’m also able to award The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP the Prize for Sycophantic Laughter While Wearing Silly Robes of State, although to be fair, there was very little competition for this honour!

Sussexballs: £9000 per annum paid for contributions

[seminar tutor, a PhD student, says…] “You just have to be clear but stupid and you can walk away with a PhD.”

“Your essays need to be as straightforward as British fish. You know what I mean?”

“Compared to America’s arsenal, Britain’s nuclear weapons are just a drop in the ocean!”

“The fall of the Berlin Wall, 9th November 2009.”

[helpful Oxford English Dictionary entry for the word ‘smoch’] “Adj. Meaning uncertain.”

Mum: [at the very start of a Skype call] Oh, sorry to be coughing. But I’ve just eaten a mango.

[The year is 1969; Britain has declined to get involved in the Vietnam War, so the US Secretary of State announces…] “Don’t expect us to save you again. They can invade Sussex and we wouldn’t do a damn thing about it!”

[Porter takes delivery of a registered package for a student] “Oh, T____  S____? I’ve never met her and I f*ckin’ hate her… She’s had nine parcels so far this term, all from different carriers!”

And finally, as Sussex’s tireless staff of hard-working lecturers prepares to go on strike in defence of its pensions; as public-sector workers across the country protest at unfair conditions; as England sleeps…

If anyone feels like reading my gripes, as featured in The Badger, about the European Convention on Human Rights: today’s your lucky day!

Plagiarise – let no-one else’s work evade your eyes!

IR won’t be IR without a Justin Rosenberg section! ®

The main highlight of this week was spotting one of the International Relations lecturers making a cameo appearance in another unit’s textbook. I’m sure that’s pure coincidence and not a case of academics boosting each other’s publicity!

However, it was also a privilege to read an essay referring to the economic historian Sir Hrothgar Habakkuk, not particularly because it was so superb an essay, but simply because the citation (Habakkuk 1975) seems as bizarre as citing (Ezekiel 550BCE) and (Isaiah 924BCE) in an academic work!

Plagiarise – remember why the good Lord made your eyes, so don’t shade your eyes

If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.
Wilson Mizner, 1953 Gabriel Webber, c2011

Sussex University unveiled the plagiarism-detecting TurnItIn software with a fanfare this week. Students can upload their essays to it, and receive an ‘originality report’ informing us of what percentage we pilfered from other, better writers before us.

The problem is, it’s rubbish.

It turned out that my essay on the EU was 13% plagiarised. For instance, my bibliography contained the line, Spanau, Calliope: Co-ordination of European Union Policy: the National Dimension. But the dastardly TurnItIn spotted straight away that I stole this phrase from a book called Co-ordination of European Union Policy: the National Dimension by Calliope Spanau. Foiled again!

It also saw through another ruse of mine, marking the phrase the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as plagiarised, because it had already been used in Britain’s treaty of accession to the EU, and presumably the writers of that treaty had shotgunned it and banned any subsequent use. Dear oh dear.

By the way, the titles of this blog post and of this section, featuring various highly amusing rhymes of the word ‘plagiarise’, were entirely created by me and are examples of my own sparkling wit. American songwriter and comedian Tom Lehrer had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

In other multimedias

The BBC was on a roll this week; she’s won two major awards, the first one for Understatement of the Year:


They also get the Innovative Use of Metaphor Prize for:


Last but not least, Southern Railway is the lucky winner of the Franz Kafka Prize for Customer Service, receiving extra credit for threatening me with a penalty fare for failing to satisfactorily navigate the following conundrum:

Ticket office: closed, please use machine. Machine: out of order, please use ticket office. How delightfully metaphysical.

Coming to a CiniMultiPlex® near you

gabriel tintin merged copy

Intrepid boy reporter Gabriel discovers a plagiarism gang at work in Sussex with tentacles stretching out across the South Coast, funded by a shady Milanese opera-singer known only as “Banker” Castafiore! Aided by retired military man Captain Padlock from University Security, as well as bumbling lecturers Thompson and Thomson, he embarks on a race across the world to reach the perfect source before the enemy. But who will get their First?

Sussexballs: £9000 per annum paid for contributions

“Perhaps you think the iPhone is too expensive, and many people in Africa can’t afford it.” [Yes – perhaps…]

“Suppose I say, ‘We’re all going to bake a cake. Let’s have a whip-round.'”

“Now how could we divide this cake between us in a fair way? We want to make sure everyone gets their just deserts.” [Or perhaps ‘desserts’?]

[elderly Security man ambles up 5 minutes after fire-alarm] “Sorry to keep you waiting folks!”

“I always think it’s fun, when I see one of those Canadians with their Canada backpack, to go up to them and say, ‘Hey, with your accent – are you American?’ just to p*ss them off!”

“This article was written by two people called Karsch and Karsch.” [And the surnames are pure coincidence?]

Dad: Do you want this [99p Oxfam second-hand] book? / Mum: Erm… I don’t know. Hold on, I’ll look up some reviews. [gets out Android] / Me: I’m just going to stand outside.

Waiter: I’m afraid we’ve run out of jam for your scones, but you could have them with honey instead? / Mum: You can’t have scones with honey! / Waiter: Well, you can